1931-1940

Lewis Seiler – Career Woman (1936)

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A girl accused of killing her father is defended unsuccessfully by a flashy lawyer. Then another lawyer looks at the case. A female lawyer. It is 1938. Read More »

Howard Hawks – The Big Sleep [Prerelease] (1945)

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This is the 116 min. version that IMDB calls the director’s cut.

The following describes the main differences between the two versions and why two versions were created:
After the film was completed, it was shelved while Warner Bros. worked to release a backlog of war-related films. It was decided that since the war was drawing to a close, public interest in these films would substantially lessened after its conclusion, whereas The Big Sleep had no such obvious issues of time sensitivity which would require a more immediate release. (A careful eye will spot many indications of The Big Sleep being shot during the war, such as ration stamps and dialogue, and pictures of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.) Read More »

Jean Renoir – La nuit du carrefour AKA Night at the Crossroads (1932)

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Plot (from Allmovie):
La Nuit du Carrefour (A Night at the Crossroads) may well be the least known of Jean Renoir’s sound films. Adapted from a novel by Georges Simenon, the story concentrates on a gang of thieves who utilize a cross-road garage as the hideaway. During their last caper, the gang has accidentally murdered a jewel thief, and the heat is on. Winna Winifred, the beautiful ringleader of the gang, makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with Pierre Renoir (the director’s brother), the detective who’s been assigned to bring her in. The only one of Renoir’s productions to thoroughly qualify as a “crime picture,” La Nuit du Carrefour was often dismissed by the director, who felt that he was so successful in creating a “mysterious atmosphere” that no one understood what was going on (He did, however, enjoy working with Georges Simenon, who became a lifelong friend).- Read More »

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Bezhin lug AKA Bezhin Meadow (1937)

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This short film is only still-image restoration of an unfinished film.

What is one to make of Bezhin Meadow? What is one to make of Sergei Eisenstein? The questions are in many ways the same as this film maudit and its maker are in much the same boat these days – lost to history both artistic and political. Filmed between 1936 and 1937 Bezhin Meadow was to signal Eisenstein’s return to the Soviet fold after his sojourn in America and the debacle of Que Viva Mexico. What resulted was an even greater debacle in that no sooner had the film neared completion than it was attacked and banned from view – with Eisenstein contributing to the banning by penning an essay in which he ‘confessed’ to the ‘mistakes’ of Bezhin Meadow. Finally adding injury to insult, the sole surviving print of Bezhin Meadow was destroyed – supposedly in a bombing raid during World War II, but just as likely burned outright. Then around 1968 a ‘reconstruction’ of the film was engineered when splices from the editing table, saved by Eisenstein’s wife, Pera Attasheva, were discovered. Cobbled together with a track of Prokoviev music, intertitles fashioned from the original script and cutting continuity and a brief spoken introduction, it exists today as a 35-minute silent film-cum-slide show. Of obvious interest to film scholars, and doubtless pleasing to those who share Roland Barthes’ preference for still images over moving ones, Bezhin Meadow once again begs the question of Eisenstein’s actual value – once the myth of the Great-Individual-Artist-Suffering-at-the-Hands-of-Stalin is scraped away. For all the ups and downs of his career Eisenstein was always Stalin’s favorite filmmaker, never meeting the fate of his teacher Vsevolod Meyerhold. Internationally celebrated, a linchpin of Soviet propaganda, photographed more than any other director in the history of the cinema, Eisenstein was a Movie Star – first, last and always. Read More »

Julien Duvivier – Maria Chapdelaine (1934)


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AMG REVIEW
“Maria Chapdelaine” beautifully supports and sustains French filmmaker Julien Duvivier’s gift for “poetic realism.” At base, this is a simple 19th century romantic triangle. Canadian lass Madeleine Renaud is adored with equal fervor by aristocratic Jean-Pierre Aumont and by crude lumberjack Jean Gabin. Her indecision paves the way for tragedy. Yes, Maria Chapdelaine is a bit old-fashioned in technique and story material, but that fact never stopped Duvivier from turning out a film of genuine merit. Though the 1984 remake, directed by Gilles Carle, is superior to Duvivier’s, the earlier film shouldn’t be ignored” Read More »

Various – Industrial Britain (1933)

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SPOILER

(from an imdb review)
“Ah, PROPOGANDA! See one of the early propaganda films–worth the viewing
Author: TheMrLee

Grierson set out to make “propaganda,” and this film–with it’s voice-over proclaiming the great value of the British industrial worker, without a hint of ambiguity or doubt–fits that category well. The authoritatarian narrator feels out-of-date and unsophisticated, but the footage is well shot and interesting, and the transparency of the propaganda aspect is almost a reflief at a time when so many films have hidden agendas. ” Read More »

Sergei Yutkevich & Lev Oskarovic Arnstam – Ankara – serdtse Turtsii aka Ankara: The heart of Turkey (1934)

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Ankara – serdtse Turtsii aka Ankara-The heart of Turkey is a Soviet documentary made for the 10th anniversary of the new Turkish Republic in the year 1934.

The story starts over a pastoral view of Turkey, we see some country people going to the new capital : Ankara. Same time, there is Soviet ships passing thru Bosphorus, Istanbul. Soviet military and diplomatic people reach Ankara by train as young turks and scooters. We watch the city by the air… Some archeological views… The new city, the young people, some folkloric plays, modern buildings, gymnasium, modern art school, university studies and finally 10th anniversary stadium ceremony… Read More »